This is a good place to start a walking tour of the village. It is an authoritative information source for the island. There are maps, brochures, books and more.
Enjoy the view from the deck next to the ferry terminal and get your bearings. Silver Lake lies before you-the focal point of the village.
The white, circular cistern on the right of the picture is all that remains of a 500-man U. S. Navy base built here in 1942 to aid in the search for German U-boats during World War II
We have been going to Ocracoke for over 20 years and just recently brought our two dogs. There are pet friendly hotels and a boarding place that has a nice set up for your dogs. (*See Sandy Paws Boarding). You can board them and also take them out for excursions at your pleasure and schedule. They do everything all boarding places do like feed and walk them but you have access to them at any time.
There is a wonderful friendly vibe to the Island and it isn't congested like further up north on the Outer Banks. Grab your bikes, camera and walking shoes and see the island. No car needed (except to go to the beach.)
I love this place and the dogs do too!
The name of the boat I took was Miss Ocracoke. The guys, Captain Stevie and his ship's mate, David, were very cool. I even caught up with them later on in the week and they offered some of the fresh clams that they were grilling on a charcoal grill by the side of the road. Nice guys.
They will provide you also with a bucket and ice to keep your fish fresh until you get back to land. Plus, they will even clean and filet the fish for you.
They also offer Dolphin Cruises in the evenings which I've never done before but I'm sure it'd be fun.
My advice for this trip is to eat well before you go, bring snacks and water, especially water. And even if you get motion sickness it won't be so bad as long as they keep the boat in the sound. Otherwise, have fun. And tip the ship's mate.
All along NC 12 you will see places advertising deep sea fishing. Miss Ocracoke is the closest to the corner of NC 12 and Silver Lake Rd.
This is one of a few historic sites that should not be missed on the island. And it will be hard to miss because the only taller landmark is the water tower.
This lighthouse is the 2nd to be built on Ocracoke and can be seen 14 miles out to sea. It was built in 1823. The first one was struck by lightning. You can't go up inside this one like you can at Hatteras but it's still pretty to view. It is the shortest lighthouse in NC at 75 feet. Parking is limited and you can only stay for about 5 minutes usually.
The blackbeard offered some cutouts outside for some neat photo oppurtunities as well as a gift shop with some very unique pirate items. The exhibit was $3 and we had a $1 off coupon. It was worth the price but I do not think it was worth any more than that. There were not many original artificats, but there was some neat things and some good information. Would recommend for a first time trip to Ocracoke.
This lighthouse was the smallest out of the 3 that I saw but to me it was the most Beautiful. It is free to walk up to and there is a 15 minute limit on the parking at the Ocracoke lighthouse. Plenty of time to view this beautiful lighthouse.
For me the main charm of this little museum is that it exists! I always love to see the dedication that goes into the development of a small local museum like this – the acknowledgement of the past life of a community and its contribution towards shaping the present.
This particular museum benefits from being in a traditional island house – once the home of Coast Guard Capt. David Williams, this historic, two-story house was moved to its present location in 1989 and restored to its former early 19th century condition by the Ocracoke Preservation Society. The original wainscoting, floors, staircases, and wood-burning stove are still intact. Inside, you can visit a bedroom, living room, and kitchen which are furnished with period tables, chairs and ornaments etc., all donated by local families.
Exhibits also include a wonderful collection of photographs of island natives (don’t you just love to peer at old photos and imagine the lives of the ordinary men, women and children depicted in them?), and (less interesting for me I confess) items linked to the island’s seafaring traditions. Finally, anyone who shares my curiosity about language and the origins of words will enjoy discovering more about the island’s traditional brogue here.
Admission to the museum is free, and it’s open from Easter through to the end of November. In summer, hours are 10.00 – 5.00 Monday – Friday and 11.00 – 4.00 Saturday & Sunday. Off-season the hours are 11.00 - 4.00 Monday to Saturday (closed Sunday)
I'm sorry I have no photos of the museum itself - it was raining when we went there)
Wherever you go around Silver Lake Harbour you’ll get a view of the rather squat white lighthouse. In fact it’s the oldest, shortest and most southerly of the Outer Banks's four lighthouses, and is the second-oldest lighthouse in the nation.
The lighthouse was built in 1823 and stands 77.5 feet tall. The walls are 5 feet thick at the base and are made of brick, covered with white-washed mortar. It still operates, emitting one long flash every few seconds from a half-hour before sunset to a half-hour after sunrise. The beam from the beacon rotates 360 degrees and can be seen 14 miles out to sea.
The lighthouse is not open for tours or climbing, but volunteers occasionally staff it, offering historical talks and answering visitors' questions. You need to enquire about possible staffing times at the visitor centre, although I have to say we didn’t bother and instead simply contented ourselves with admiring it from a distance and making use of it as a feature of our harbour-side photos.
If you do want to visit, turn off NC 12 at the Island Inn and go about 800 yards down the two-lane street. You can park near a white picketed turnoff on the right and will need to walk the last few yards down the boardwalk to the lighthouse.
The best way to explore Ocracoke village is definitely on foot. The narrow, winding back lanes weren't meant for cars, and you’d miss a lot of you only pass through by car.
We particularly liked a little sandy lane called Fig Tree Lane. We spotted several crafts shops here, just tucked away in people’s houses, such as the one selling these rather wacky wooden signs. Howard Street is another lovely spot. It winds through one of the oldest and least-changed parts of the village. I was also pleased to see Sarah Lane on the south side of Silver Lake Harbour!
Silver Lake Harbour
Cockle Creek was dredged back in 1931 to create the pretty Silver Lake Harbour. This was a key factor in Ocracoke's development as host to a sizable fishing industry, and nowadays is equally important as the focal point of the village and a great lure for tourists. We found ourselves drifting towards the harbour several times a day – to have a meal or a drink at one of the waterside cafes and bars, to browse the shops, to take photos or simply to enjoy watching all the activity.
The National Park Service maintains a herd of about 30 once-wild ponies, known as the Banker Ponies, in a 180-acre pasture located off NC 12, about 6 miles south of the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry docks. You can park just by the side of the road and walk up to the pens to watch the ponies from a small observation platform. These Pony Pens are apparently one of the most popular attractions on Ocracoke Island, but although worth a brief stop while passing, I don’t think they are in themselves a significant reason to make the trip to Ocracoke, which for me has many more compelling attractions.
But these ponies have played a large role in the history of the island. At various times there were between 200 to 500 of them, all roaming freely on the island. Historians think they may have come with the Raleigh expeditions and were left on Roanoke Island. As an alternative you could chose to believe one of several legends about them, e.g. that the ancestors of the ponies found on the island today came from shipwrecked vessels in the so-called “Graveyard of the Atlantic”, or from Spanish explorers DeSoto or Cortez. Another tale indicates that a ship, the "Black Squall", was carrying a circus troupe and animals when it went down during a storm. All hands aboard and all but two horses perished.
From Jan. to July 1942, German U-boats sank 397 ships filled with supplies in the west Atlantic.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill loaned 24 antisubmarine boats in April 1942, but the 170 ft converted trawler "HMS Bedfordshire" was torpedoed by a German UBoat on May 11, 1942 and sunk with all hands. Four bodies were washed ashore, but only Lt Cunningham and Stanley Craig could be identified. Twenty-eight year old Lieutenant Cunningham died just months before his son was born.
The islanders and a Methodist lay preacher buried all four together in a small plot of land which was given by Mrs. Alice Wahab Williams near the Williams family graveyard. Markers were made by the T.A. Loving Construction Co., then building the nearby Navy base. A year later, at Mrs. Cunningham's request, a Catholic service was held by the Navy chaplain, then stationed at Ocracoke.
In 1952, the land where the bodies were buried was given to the British Government - "this foreign field that is forever England,".
On Friday the 13th 2005- Village Craftsmen Ocracoke Journal reported the annual May remembrance ceremony - attended each year by representatives of the Navy and British Embassy - a 21 gun salute is fired.
NCCruiseGurl wrote: I was on Ocracoke during the May 13, 2005 British Cemetary rememberance and heard the 21 gun salute. The local kindergarten class walked down to observe the ceremony, too.
"This morning's ceremony at the British Cemetery was well attended and, as always, moving and memorable. The British Union Jack fluttered in the breeze. For the first time a representative of the Cunningham family was in attendance. The cemetery and surrounding grounds were neat and well-kept, thanks to the Ocracoke Coast Guard personnel. A new black granite marker engraved with a likeness of the "Bedfordshire" and listing all of the crew members has been placed at the site by Ocracoke residents and friends."
"Also present- L. Vanloan Naisawald, author of "In Some Foreign Field: The Story of Four British Graves on the Outer Banks."
On the north side of the island there is a pony pen that houses ponies that are believed to descend from Spanish mustangs that freely roamed the island for over 200 years. For a little more history go here
The ponies are penned up and can be visited any time of day. For even more history about island horses and particularly Ocracoke's horse population go here
It's a huge part of the island's history and the pasture is a very nice place to take a stroll around or bring a picnic. There's a boardwalk to your left that leads to another viewing platform. Beach Access is across the street as well.
For something like $8 an hour for either one passenger or tandem kayaks and $35 a week one can rent kayaks. There is a stand on the corner of NC 12 and Silver Lake Rd. that operates out of Ride the Wind surf shop across the street. They will get you set up and you can launch right out into the harbor among the docks. They give you a laminated map of the harbor and surrounding area and suggest a good ride out into the sound and down towards the south end of the island, to Springer's point or Teach's hole. We tried it one year and it was a little rough because of the boats that were speeding past further from the shore but this last trip we paddled all the way to Teach's hole, got out on the shore and traipsed around looking for crabs and clams. They will probably warn you to avoid the entrance to the harbor at the top of the hour because of the ferrys from the mainland that will be docking.
Stop by and visit the British cemetary. Here are buried the remains of unidentified British soldiers that washed ashore here during WW II in 1942. They were soldiers aboard the HMS Bedfordshire that was torpedoed on May 11, 1942. Their bodies washed ashore shortly after and residents here wanted to give them a proper burial. They rest in the shade of old oak trees just down the street from NC 12 on (fittingly) British Cemetery Rd.